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What would be the correct sentence from the below two:

  1. For a second time, in a few months we decided to meet.

OR

  1. For the second time, in a few months we decided to meet.

Is one of the two incorrect or can they be used interchangeably?

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    It doesn't matter which article you use, but do you mean that they decided then to meet a few months later, or that the decision to meet was made a few months later? Nov 2 at 9:08
  • @KateBunting has the logical sense: For the second time in a few months, we decided to meet. Nov 2 at 13:55
  • What's the intended meaning? Did you decide to meet in a few months, and this would be your second meeting? Or did you decide to meet for the second time, and the first time had been just a few months before?
    – gotube
    Nov 3 at 1:58
  • @KateBunting, thanks for the comment, the intended meaning was "that the decision to meet was made a few months later"...I have selected the answer below but if you have a different answer or an explanation I am still curious to know.
    – Chetan
    Nov 3 at 8:42
  • "A few months later, we decided to meet for a second time" (or "decided for a second time that we should meet"). It's putting the two phrases together that makes your version confusing. Nov 3 at 9:13

2 Answers 2

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In general, use a/an when you're referring to one thing out of many similar things, and the when you're referring to a specific thing. In your example, you can use either article. There's a very slight difference between them, but it doesn't have a substantial effect on the meaning.

For a second time.....

This suggests there might be other similar second times, or perhaps a third, fourth and fifth time. A second time is one out of many similar times.

For the second time....

There is only one second time, and this is it.

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  • Thank you for answering this. It clears things up a bit for me.
    – Chetan
    Nov 3 at 8:41
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My take on it (disregarding the actual meaning of the example sentences) is that for a second time just means 'again (after one previous occasion)'.

For the second time implies that the speaker knows from a future perspective how many times altogether the event happened, and that this was the second of them.

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